Housing Task Force

New Recording Fee Creates Fund for Affordable Housing

The Wayne Tomorrow! Housing Task Force identified the adoption of an Act 137 County Affordable Housing Fund as a priority from the beginning. 

The Wayne County Commissioners, with the support of Register of Wills and Recorder of Deeds Deborah Bates, adopted an ordinance in August authorizing the Register & Recorders office to collect and additional $13 on each filing to support affordable housing. The new fee goes into effect on Oct. 1.

The additional fee is paid each time a deed or mortgage is recorded, and it brings the total base cost of filing to $71.75. County Solicitor Wendell Kay said that sum represents the best value in county government.  “It protects your property from everyone in the world forever,” he explained. “It establishes your ownership for all time and no one can make a viable claim against it.”

Housing Task Force Co-Chair and Deputy Human Services Administrator Lori O’Malley said the majority of the generated funds can be used for projects and programs that create quality and affordable housing. They can be applied as a local match for grants, fill in gaps in other funding streams, and help provide case management services. A small amount of the fees can be retained for administration of the program.

“Just having the match can open more avenues,” O’Malley said, noting efforts to improve owner-occupied properties are often thwarted by other issues such as mold or asbestos remediation.

Task Force  to Tackle Housing Options in Wayne County

A recent focus group of newly arrived residents indicated one of the main barriers they face is locating appropriate housing. Some new residents coming to the area for work or lifestyle changes are not interested in buying property immediately. They prefer to settle in to the area, then determine where they might want to plant roots. This group tends to prefer the downtown areas that provide quick access to culture, food and recreation.A picture of a two-story brick building on Hawley’s Main Avenue.

Social Service Agency workers have also expressed concern about housing, especially available inventory. They note many landlords with potential units don't understand the process, rules/regulations and inspections associated with subsidized housing program. Some municipalities with zoning restriction may not understand the needs of the housing industry.

The Action Committee suggested several topics/goals:

  • Determine how Wayne County can create and maintain affordable and appropriate housing for its citizens;
  •  Find ways to spark new ideas for reusing existing spaces;
  • Develop, identify and create an inventory of housing opportunities in the county;
  • Identify the existing barriers to home ownership;
  • Enumerate the housing needs across all ages and demographics all across the county;
  • Address the impact of homelessness or "couch surfing" on education and youth workforce development.

FOCUSED INTERVIEWS

The Housing Task Force had planned to convene a focus group,  prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,  with landlords, realtors, developers,  contractors, inspectors and municipal officials to discuss the barriers to providing more quality rental housing options in the community.

The project has since be revamped as Focused Interviews with several representatives of each category to be interviewed separately by members of the Task Force later in September.